For the preclinical development of magnetic particle imaging (MPI) in general, and the exploration of possible new clinical applications of MPI in particular, tailored MPI tracers with surface properties optimized for the intended use are needed. Here we present the synthesis of magnetic multicore particles (MCPs) modified with polyethylene glycol (PEG) for use as blood pool MPI tracers. To achieve the stealth effect the carboxylic groups of the parent MCP were activated and coupled with pegylated amines (mPEG-amines) with different PEG-chain lengths from 2 to 20 kDa. The resulting MCP-PEG variants with PEG-chain lengths of 10 kDa (MCP-PEG10K after one pegylation step and MCP-PEG10K2 after a second pegylation step) formed stable dispersions and showed strong evidence of a successful reaction of MCP and MCP-PEG10K with mPEG-amine with 10 kDa, while maintaining their magnetic properties. In rats, the mean blood half-lives, surprisingly, were 2 and 62 min, respectively, and therefore, for MCP-PEG10K2, dramatically extended compared to the parent MCP, presumably due to the higher PEG density on the particle surface, which may lead to a lower phagocytosis rate. Because of their significantly extended blood half-life, MCP-PEG10K2 are very promising as blood pool tracers for future in vivo cardiovascular MPI.
Keywords: blood half-life; coprecipitation; magnetic multicore particles (MCP); magnetic nanoparticles (MNP); magnetic particle imaging (MPI); magnetic particle spectroscopy (MPS); polyethylene glycol (PEG).